Thursday, November 25, 2010

Alchemy, Magic, Whatevs: Vegan Cooking Is Cool

As I boiled wiggly chunks of tofu for tofu ricotta, I realized that one of the things I love most about vegan cooking is the magical aspect of it. It's like alchemy: turning tofu into part of a vegan yummy lasagna that even my omnivore relatives love. Tofu looks even more like white jello after you boil it; it jiggles and looks like alien food as I strain it. The ingredients are unremarkable in my shopping cart and on the stove and then suddenly it all comes together at the end. I never got that satisfaction when I cooked with animal products. I hated it, wore vinyl gloves and felt grossed out and depressed. It was definitely far from magical. When you cook chicken, it still just looks like chicken when you're done. Vegan cooking has alchemical bells and whistles and secret tricks. It's like a game to figure out the starting ingredients sometime. It's witchcraft! And don't even get me started on vegan cookbooks. They are my crack. The first ones I had were hoarded in a little pile in my kitchen in Austin. I especially have fond memories of 365 Dairy Free Recipes and the Uncheese Cookbook. Getting excited to try out new the early 90's and the days before the internet, getting new vegan recipes was like discovering hidden treasure.

I am so glad that there is no turkey on my family's table this year. Even in my years of omnivorous lapse, I always dreaded Thanksgiving and haven't eaten meat on that day since 1994. This year, it's fun and it's an Italian vegan potluck feast. I better get cracking on all of this cooking! Lasagne with porcini mushrooms, basil ricotta, veggies and the holy grail of ingredients: truffle salt! I finally found it and it's even local (so there!). Also making broccoli rabe with vegan sausage and carmelized onions and vegan tiramisu cupcakes. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

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